Academic Excellence: Any Future with a C Average and No Skills?

My late father-in-law, Dr. James Garnett Lyne, used to refer to what he called 'mass mediocrity' whenever he discussed education. Like me he was a product of a public school education. Neither of our parents could afford a private school education.

 

What did he mean by 'mass mediocrity'? He was referring to what he feared would be the result of a general lowering of standards in our schools. He argued that the less qualified teachers were, the less they were paid and the less demanding high school curricula were, the more we as a society would descend into 'mass mediocrity'. Dr. Lyne has been gone for 45 years. Yet his prescient words still haunt me. You see, back then, I had no clue what he was talking about. None. That scholarly father-in-law of mine was given to many well-reasoned pronouncements. I figured that this was just one more and filed it away in my memory bank.


Graduates lack basic business skills

 

 

 

 

 
In my own daily life and work I am well aware of what high school graduates - both public and private school graduates - bring to the table. The lack of basic business communications skills is appalling. And I don't think that Twitter and texting is the reason. I remain convinced until somebody can show me otherwise that most high school students are simply not taught how to write business communications. They might have had one short lesson on that skill in English . . .read more
 I thought it might be instructive to gather a dozen or so girls' schools' public thoughts about themselves and their missions. The words which I have quoted can be found on each school's web site. Hopefully if you are thinking about sending your daughter to an all girls' school, you will be inspired to explore the opportunities available to you in these fine educational environments committed to educating your daughters to be all they can be.

 

From Nightingale-Bamford School, New York, New York

 

 

 
"Founded by two bold, visionary entrepreneurs in the same year that women won the right to vote, the Nightingale-Bamford School has helped generations of girls to become strong, independent, confident women. We offer a rigorous, college-preparatory education from Kindergarten through grade 12 in a caring and attentive school community."

"Over the 90 years since our school was founded, we have graduated almost 3,000 alumnae, expanded our building four times, and adopted new disciplines and means of teaching. But throughout it all, we've retained the same guiding principles that Miss Nightingale and Miss Bamford instilled in those first students: truth, friendship, and loyalty."

The Nightingale-Bamford School offers grades K-12. The school serves approximately 570 young ladies.
 
From Saint Mary's School, Raleigh, North Carolina
 

 
"Saint Mary’s School has developed curriculum and employed strategies that capitalize on the strengths of girls on their journey to college and life. Girls’ schools support a culture, climate and community that . . .read more
If you have children in private school, then you are most likely looking at three months, perhaps even longer, which you must fill with activities of one kind or another during the long summer break. Your children are accustomed to structure during the other nine months of the year. It is a good idea to plan their vacation months. The structure will be there, just much more flexible and adaptable to the needs of the day. Let's look at some of your options for making summer a special time for both you and your children.
 
Young Children (ages 4-10)
 
Most schools offer summer sessions. Depending on its resources a school may offer all day sessions or just a long morning session running from approximately 9 until 1. If the school has had a summer session for several years, it probably has worked out most of the kinks. But keep an eye out for the quality of each activity. Is the school merely providing glorified babysitting or are the activities well-planned, well-organized and well-supervised by qualified personnel?
 

 
The advantage of sending a young child to a summer session at her school is that she knows just about everybody anyway. Even more important for your wee one is that the daily routine is similar to what she is already comfortable with. My biggest concern with summer sessions is the planning. Weather doesn't cooperate every day, so that refreshing time in the pool can't always be counted on. What's planned . . .read more
These are tough times for teachers. It doesn't matter whether you teach in a public or private school setting. You expose yourself to legal risks every single day on the job. 
 
So, let's look at liability from our point of view as teachers. (I am not an attorney, so read my general layperson's comments and observations then run questions by and seek advice from your attorney.) This mnemonic DIRE lays out some of the issues we need to watch for. Protecting yourself is so important. Nobody else will look out for your interests as well as you will.
 
Everyday risks
 
Your chances of getting sued are probably on a par with having an accident while driving. When you drive carefully, observe the rules of the road, stay alert and drive defensively, most of the time you will be OK. But, things happen for which you are not to blame. Like the time I came down one morning to get into my car to drive to work. Somebody had backed into the front end of my vehicle. Thank goodness I had insurance. Double thanks that the person who backed into my car left a note with her contact info and an apology together with a statement that her father would pay for the repairs.
 

 
On the other hand read Teacher In Hot Water For Taking Sick Student To Hospital, Footing The Bill  When it comes to students who are in our care and under our supervision . . .read more
I can remember when many schools raised their collective eyebrows at social media a few years ago. You could almost hearing them saying under their breath "Over my dead body!" That was probably because few people back then understood social media and what to do with it.
 
The way we used to market schools
 
Decades ago your beautiful school brochures and catalogs were the way you got the word out about your school and its mission. Those printed materials were expensive and time-consuming to produce. But that's all we had. Then along came the Internet. Schools built Web sites. Pretty basic ones at first. But as the technology advanced and professional graphic designers got their hands on those school Web sites, the result was a product just as elegant and compelling as any of those brochures and catalogs we used to have lithographed. While most schools still produce brochures and catalogs, most of these are done in house.
 
It seemed that you had barely got your Web site tweaked to dazzling perfection, replete with online applications, inquiries, video tours and all the bells and whistles 21st century Web designers could cram into them, when along came Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest. Social media was suddenly socially acceptable. Not only was it acceptable but it was absolutely essential to include it as part of your marketing strategy.
 
Let's look at social media and see how best to use it to promote your school and its mission. As I usually do, I am focusing on . . .read more
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